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SPE Accepting Nominations for Innovation Awards Competition

  • Friday, 1st July 2005
  • Reading time: about 4 minutes

The SPE Automotive Division is now receiving nominations for the Innovation Awards parts competition, one of the established recognition events for both the automotive and plastics industries.

Nomination forms can be downloaded from the organization’s website here and are due no later than September 16th, with first-round judging to follow on September 28th.

“Today’s automotive market is demanding higher and higher levels of active as well as passive safety devices on passenger vehicles,” said Suzanne Cole, president of Cole and Associates and the 2005 program chair, “And polymeric materials are often the critical factor in making these technologies work. After all, I don’t know of anyone who would want to be hit with a steel airbag! To ensure our Innovation Awards program accurately reflects market trends, we decided to add the new Safety Category to the 2005 program, just as we added the Performance/Customization (Automotive Aftermarket) Category last year.”

SPE regard there Innovation Awards Gala to be the largest competition of its kind in the world. The participants include teams made up of OEMs, tier suppliers, and polymer producers who will present a case for describing how their part, system or vehicle module merits the claim as Year’s Most Innovative Use of Plastics.

This year’s competition will feature awards for best innovation in the:
Assembly/Enabling Technologies,
Body Exterior,
Body Interior,
Performance/Customization (Automotive Aftermarket),
Plus a new Safety category.

An additional Hall of Fame category is awarded to parts that have been in continuous commercial production for 15 or more years.

SPE Suggest that it is typically design-driven innovations that lead to winning entries in the Interior, Exterior, Chassis/Hardware, and Powertrain Categories. Hence the focus is on how unique the application is and how it advances the vehicle in terms of performance, mass, cost, aesthetics, and other attributes. Here, process and materials breakthroughs may have helped make the application possible, but have secondary importance.

Focus in the Materials Category is typically on how innovative the polymeric material(s) used in the application is (are) in terms of chemistry and properties. In this category, less emphasis is paid to the actual part.

The Processing Category focuses on manufacturing innovation via processing of polymeric parts, whereas the Assembly/Enabling Technologies Category focuses on other technologies that support the product development effort, such as computer-aided engineering, rapid prototyping, secondary-finishing, and assembly/attachment methods. Long-term sustainability of polymeric materials and components are the features judges look for in the Environmental Category. Applications should make use of post-industrial and/or post-consumer recyclate, or be specifically designed for easy disassembly and recycling at end-of-vehicle life.

The new Safety Category added for 2005 seeks plastics innovations that enhance active and passive safety devices on vehicles.

The Hall of Fame Award is presented for an innovative application that has stood the test of time and been in continuous production for at least a decade-and-a-half. Nominations may be submitted by anyone familiar with the application and its technical significance – from OEM, Tier supplier, toolmaker, or materials supplier. However, OEM approval is required for the nomination to be considered by the judges.

The component must not have previously been nominated for the Innovation Awards Gala competition. Additionally, it must be in production and on a vehicle that is commercially available for consumer purchase by November 1 of the year in which it is nominated. There are no minimum limits to the vehicle’s production run. If the submission team is not sure if the application has previously been nominated, it should be submitted anyway as the screening judges will do the research necessary to make that determination.

Often an application could be submitted in multiple categories – for example, a redesigned air-filter housing that represents new materials and processing technologies, plus is mounted underhood (a fit for the chassis/hardware category) and has environmental benefits. By carefully answering the questions on the nomination form, the single most innovative aspect of the application may become apparent. The screening judges will carefully review the nomination form. If they feel the application will fit better and have a better chance of winning in another category, they may move it.

Winning entries receive worldwide exposure and recognition for both participating companies and their team members.

Now in its 35th-anniversary year, the Innovation Awards Gala – whose theme is “License to Thrill” and will take cues from the long-running James Bond books and movies – will take place on November 16th at the Burton Manor in Livonia, Mich. Funds raised from this event will be used to support SPE educational efforts and technical seminars, which help to secure the role of plastics in the advancement of the automobile.

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